Last Word with Duncan Kirk

The MD of Imago Techmedia on embracing the digital age, San Gimignano in Tuscany and ping-pong tables in the middle of a trade show.

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What are the three things you would change in the industry?


1. The industry’s reluctance to recruit from outside the sector.
2. The general unwillingness to embrace the digital age to complement and support events.
3. Not to be afraid to look at cities outside of London to launch events.

What is the biggest topic that needs addressing in the industry?


The acceptance of event organisers to concentrate their sales and marketing teams in justifying their customers’ spend has become such a high priority. In the digital age, accountability is so important with audience delivery and ROI under more scrutiny than ever. The concentration of focus for organisers needs to be the moment the event closes, rather than just when an event is open.

Which member of the industry is least likely to get a round in first?


I’ve only worked directly in the industry for four years and in my experience there has never been any issue with people buying rounds of drinks. Far from it, working with Mark Steel and Hugh Keeble there was never any shirking when it came to stepping up to the bar.

Where is the best place for a nightcap and what would it be?


These days my nightcaps are in the nearest drinking establishment to either Victoria or Waterloo stations on my way home. Generally, at that point in the evening, I’m not particular what the nightcap might be.

What’s the worst idea you have seen at an exhibition?


Communal ping-pong tables in the middle of a trade show.

What’s the best putdown you’ve heard in the industry?


“You couldn’t close a door.” A phrase used by a manager at Morgan Grampian/CMP in the mid 90s to an under-performing sales executive. Don’t get me wrong it wasn’t particularly original but it did seem to match the era and the mood of the business at the time.

What one thing do you do better than anyone else?


Moan. You name it; I’ll have a moan about it. I think supporting the football club I do tends to bring out the characteristic in me…

Most prized possession?


I have an original Where Eagles Dare film poster from 1968 hanging in my home, which I’m rather fond of.

What’s your karaoke song of choice?


Don’t Look Back In Anger – Oasis.

Proudest moment (in and outside the industry)?


I’ve contributed to build some strong businesses in my media career but helping grow Imago over the past four years ranks as probably my proudest in a work capacity. On a personal level, watching my two boys play football or cricket for their respective schools/clubs always makes me feel stupidly emotional.

Team you support and why?


I tended to avoid mentioning my allegiance in the early days of my media career but now I’m past caring. My Grandad and Dad made sure there wasn’t any option, I was taken to the Den when I was three and have been Millwall ever since. My two boys now have the disease.

Tell us something we don’t know about you?


Reed Exhibitions sacked me after only 11 months in 1995 as a sales executive on Manufacturing Week. It was my first job after university. It left me mentally scarred – I didn’t return to the exhibition industry until Imago in 2012!

Worst item of clothing you own?


A luminous yellow Ralph Lauren polo shirt which I bought on a work trip to the US years ago. Absolutely zero class.

 

Favourite place to go at the weekend?


One place that stands out is San Gimignano in Tuscany. My wife used to work for Vespa and we have been a number of times. We love the food, wine, people and landscape – a perfect weekend away this time of the year.

Worst job you’ve had/worst experience you’ve had in the workplace?


Working in the hellish freezer department of Tesco doing late shifts when studying for my A-Levels.

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